Tony the tiger to remain at Louisiana truck stop for now after animal rights group’s lawsuit dismissed   Leave a comment

article TBy Emily Lane, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
November 17, 2014 at 11:42 AM, updated November 17, 2014 at 10:44 PM

The owner of Tiger Truck Stop scored a victory in court Monday (Nov. 17), allowing him to keep Tony, a Bengal tiger, as a roadside attraction at his gas station off Interstate 10 in Gross Tete. Tony’s fate is still unclear, however, as the tiger’s ownership is still the subject of another, ongoing court case.

Nineteenth Judicial District Court Judge William Morvant dismissed a lawsuit on Monday challenging an amendment, which the state legislature adopted at its most recent session, to a law regarding Tony the tiger. Morvant said in court that the lawsuit, which the Animal Legal Defense Fund argued on behalf of former state Rep. Warren Triche Jr., attempted to address the same issues in a still-pending lawsuit in another judge’s court.

The heart of both lawsuits, the court found, addresses the constitutionality of Louisiana’s big cat ban, a 2006 law sponsored by Triche. In the other case, Tiger Truck Stop owner Michael Sandlin is challenging the constitutionality of the 2006 law in Judge Janice Clark’s court.

“You can’t have two suits about the same main issue,” Sandlin’s attorney Jennifer Treadway Nixon said outside the courtroom.

With similar cases ongoing in two courts, lawyers could be accused of “forum shopping,” to gain a favorable outcome. And in these cases, problems could arise if there’s contradicting outcomes regarding: 1) the constitutionality of the 2006 law cat ban; and 2) the constitutionality of the 2014 amendment to the 2006 cat ban.

Sandlin said the cat ban in 2006 cat ban “turned us into criminals overnight” and he’ll continue to fight to protect his property rights to Tony.

ALDF spokeswoman Carney Ann Nasser said the organization won’t halt it’s challenge of the amendment giving Sandlin a special exception. 

He maintains Tony is happy and healthy at the truck stop in his 3,200-square-foot habitat. He also argues transporting the tiger to some unknown location could possibly cause Tony distress or even threaten his life — a point disputed by those who want him released to a refuge or somewhere else.

Animal rights activists and those who want Tony taken away from the truck stop say, however, have described the habitat as a diesel-fumed cage off of noisy interstate.

ALDF in June filed the suit, which was dismissed Monday, days after Gov. Bobby Jindal signed Senate Bill 250 into law. One of the group’s arguments was that the new amendment makes a special exception for Sandlin, which is illegal according to the state’s own constitution.

Sen. Rick Ward, R-Port Allen, filed the legislation in question at Sandlin’s behest after the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal ruled in 2012 that Sandlin’s permit to keep Tony was invalid because he is not Tony’s legal owner. Last fall, the Louisiana Supreme Court let that decision stand after Sandlin sought a review of it. Tiger Truck Stop Inc. has owned Tony since 2000, but the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, apparently following pressure from animals rights groups, promulgated new rules in recent years requiring the owner to be an individual, not a corporation.

The rules applied to the state’s exotic cat ban, which is apparently unclear whether Tiger Truck Stop’s ownership of Tony could be grandfathered in, since he was at the truck stop prior to the ban. The new law makes a specific exception to the state’s exotic cat ban by allowing Sandlin to keep Tony until the tiger dies.

Also on Monday, a separate case similar to the big cat challenge in Clark’s court was dismissed.

That case, brought by Yogie and Friends Exotic Cat Sanctuary in DeSoto Parish, also challenges the constitutionality of the 2006 big exotic cat ban. Nasser said Judge Bob Downing, who is filling in for 19th JDC Judge Kay Bates since her retirement, dismissed it because the same issues were addressed in Sandlin’s case.

It’s still unclear if Yogie and Friends will appeal Dunning’s judgment or seek to join Sandlin’s suit, said their attorney Nixon, who’s also handling Sandlin’s case.

http://www.nola.com/crime/baton-rouge/index.ssf/2014/11/tony_the_tiger_to_stay_put_for.html

Posted November 18, 2014 by freetonythetiger in Uncategorized

Animal rights group @ALDF not giving up on ‘Tony’   Leave a comment

tony_tigerThe nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund will be in a Baton Rouge courtroom Monday arguing its case in a lawsuit it filed against the state, the Wildlife & Fisheries Commission and Tiger Truck Stop owner Michael Sandlin.

The suit comes after state lawmakers during the spring/summer legislative session grandfathered in Sandlin’s ownership of a 550-pound Siberian-Bengal tiger he keeps in a cage as a roadside attraction at his Grosse Tete business off Interstate 10. The bill, now known as Act 697, came after years of court battles between ALDF and Sandlin — battles the animal rights group repeatedly won and that lead to a state district judge order Wildlife & Fisheries to revoke Sandlin’s permit to keep the tiger.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of former state Rep. Warren Triche Jr., who sponsored a 2006 approved by the Legislature and signed by then-Gov. Kathleen Blanco banning private ownership of large, exotic cats.

From a press release issued by ALDF:

The sole purpose of Act 697 is to allow Sandlin to keep the 14-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger caged in a gas station parking lot by exempting Sandlin from Louisiana’s 2006 ban, a law Sandlin had broken for years. Act 697 undoes legal victories achieved by ALDF on Tony the tiger’s behalf, and retroactively removes protections Tony received under the ban. In a separate lawsuit, the Louisiana courts held that Sandlin’s captivity of Tony violated state law.

“Act 697 violates the Louisiana Constitution and the intent of the 2006 ban, which was passed unanimously by the Louisiana legislature,” said Stephen Wells, executive director for the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “Louisianans want Tony to live in a reputable sanctuary, not a gas station parking lot—and they don’t want their representatives to hand out special privileges to lawbreakers like the Tiger Truck Stop, which profits from animal suffering.”

http://www.theind.com/news/indnews/19631-animal-rights-group-not-giving-up-on-tony

via @ALDF: Animal Legal Defense Fund Back in Court to Protect Tony the Tiger From Losing Statutory Protection   Leave a comment

tony deePosted on November 14, 2014

Direct Link: http://aldf.org/press-room/press-releases/animal-legal-defense-fund-back-in-court-to-protect-tony-the-tiger-from-losing-statutory-protection/

For immediate release:

Contact:
Megan Backus, ALDF
Lisa Franzetta, ALDF

BATON ROUGE — Arguments will be heard Monday in a lawsuit brought by the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) to protect Tony, a tiger living at Grosse Tete’s Tiger Truck Stop. The lawsuit alleges that Louisiana lawmakers violated the state’s constitutional prohibition on “special laws” when they exempted Tony’s owner, Michael Sandlin, from existing animal welfare and public safety laws by passing Act 697 in June. ALDF is representing former Louisiana Representative Warren Triche, Jr. (who sponsored the 2006 ban on private ownership of dangerous large exotic cats) and other Louisiana residents and taxpayers. The Tiger Truck Stop has asked the court to dismiss ALDF’s lawsuit against the State of Louisiana, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the Tiger Truck Stop and owner Michael Sandlin.

Where: 19th Judicial District Court, Division 23, Room 8a, 300 North Boulevard, Baton Rouge, LA.

When: Monday, November 17, 2014. 9:30am CT

The sole purpose of Act 697 is to allow Sandlin to keep the 14-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger caged in a gas station parking lot by exempting Sandlin from Louisiana’s 2006 ban, a law Sandlin had broken for years. Act 697 undoes legal victories achieved by ALDF on Tony the tiger’s behalf, and retroactively removes protections Tony received under the ban. In a separate lawsuit, the Louisiana courts held that Sandlin’s captivity of Tony violated state law.

“Act 697 violates the Louisiana Constitution and the intent of the 2006 ban, which was passed unanimously by the Louisiana legislature,” said Stephen Wells, executive director for the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “Louisianans want Tony to live in a reputable sanctuary, not a gas station parking lot—and they don’t want their representatives to hand out special privileges to lawbreakers like the Tiger Truck Stop, which profits from animal suffering.”

Copies of the lawsuit and photographs of Tony at the Tiger Truck Stop are available upon request.

FTTT Note: Please leave your comments in support of ALDF’s efforts and Tony’s re-homing to a big cat sanctuary at the direct link: http://aldf.org/press-room/press-releases/animal-legal-defense-fund-back-in-court-to-protect-tony-the-tiger-from-losing-statutory-protection/

 

CONGRRRRRATULATIONS Wildcat Sanctuary!   Leave a comment

wcs

THANK YOU to everyone who donated, shared and cared and made this a very successful fundraiser for Wildcat Sanctuary.

Read the recap of Give To The Max Day here:

http://www.wildcatsanctuary.org/growing-animal-advocacy-around-the-world-give-to-max-day-is-a-huge-sucess/

Posted November 14, 2014 by freetonythetiger in Uncategorized

Help Wildcat Sanctuary on Give To The Max Day TODAY Thursday Nov. 13th!!   Leave a comment

Click the picture above & support The Wildcat Sanctuary on Give To The Max Day – November 13th 2012. Photo Courtesy of The Wildcat Sanctuary.

Click the picture above & support The Wildcat Sanctuary on Give To The Max Day – November 13th 2012.
Photo Courtesy of The Wildcat Sanctuary.

 

Wildcat Sanctuary is one of three sanctuaries that have offered a home for Tony. They have continually supported his release and posted about Tony to their nearly 2 million Facebook Friends. Please support Wildcat Sanctuary TODAY on Give To The Max Day with a donation at the following link:

https://givemn.org/organization/Wildcat-Sanctuary

In April of 2011, this American Sanctuary Association and Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries accredited big cat sanctuary in Sandstone MN offered a home for Tony.

 

Click here and support the cats of Wildcat Sanctuary!

Click here and support the cats of Wildcat Sanctuary!

Please support Wildcat Sanctuary on their GIVE TO THE MAX DAY THURSDAY NOVEMBER 13 2014.

Sharing this post is also a great way to help…easy share buttons at the end of the post.

Thank You!

Our Mission

Provide a natural sanctuary to wildcats in need and inspire change to end the captive wildlife crisis.

Our Vision

Help create a world where animal sanctuaries are no longer needed.

Who we are

The Wildcat Sanctuary (TWS) is a 501c3 non-profit, no-kill big cat rescue located in Sandstone, MN.  TWS provides a natural sanctuary to wild cats in need and inspires change to end the captive wildlife crisis.  TWS is funded solely on private donations.  The Sanctuary is a home for animals, not a zoo for people and is not open to the public.  Combining natural and spacious habitats with a life free of exhibition and exploitation, TWS allows all residents to live wild at heart.

Website:    http://www.wildcatsanctuary.org/

Youtube:   http://www.youtube.com/user/WildcatSanctuary

Twitter:     http://twitter.com/#!/wcsanctuary

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wildcat-Sanctuary/185864382182

To learn more about The Wildcat Sanctuary view the video below:

Raw Video of Tony 9.22.2014   6 comments

Video taken of Tony recently. New media of Tony is always appreciated. If you visit Tony, document your visit with pictures and video, and please share them with us. Send us a tweet via Twitter @FreeTonyTiger or email: roar4tony@yahoo.com Thanks again for your continued to support of Tony’s release to a reputable big cat sanctuary.

Yes, There Really IS a Tiger at a Truck Stop   9 comments

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I first learned of Tony about five years ago while I was online researching information about big cats. I can honestly say I had no idea about privately owned tigers in the United States or the seriousness of the issue. I remember falling upon Big Cat Rescue’s (of Tampa FL) website and it was there I read about Tony. As with most everyone who learns of Tony’s story, I was shocked – the more I learned the more I wanted to do something to help. I signed petitions, shared his story, and embraced social media starting a Facebook page, blog, Twitter and Youtube for Tony. Tony even has his “own” Twitter and Instagram. I thought any positive means to keep his story networked should be used.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund took interest in Tony’s case and the legal battle began in 2011. ALDF victories in court prevailed with a judge ruling the permit issued by LDWF to Tony’s owner was illegal; Mr. Sandlin countered with appeals that were ruled against.

See this timeline from ALDF:
http://aldf.org/cases-campaigns/timelines/tony-the-tiger/

ALDF’s feature article about Tony:
http://aldf.org/cases-campaigns/features/tony-the-truck-stop-tiger/

The most recent attempt by Mr. Sandlin to keep Tony came about with him enlisting his state Senator, Rick Ward, to propose a bill, SB 250, to exempt himself from the Louisiana state law banning private ownership of big cats. SB 250 was passed by the Louisiana Legislature and then was signed into law as Act 697 by Gov. Bobby Jindal.

ALDF challenged this bill by filing a lawsuit against the LDWF, state of Louisiana, Tiger Truck Stop and Mr. Sandlin:

Animal Legal Defense Fund Files Lawsuit against Louisiana for Violating State Constitution with New Tony the Truck Stop Tiger Law:
http://aldf.org/press-room/press-releases/animal-legal-defense-fund-files-lawsuit-against-louisiana-for-violating-state-constitution-with-new-tony-the-truck-stop-tiger-law/

Thankfully friends of Tony would visit him and share pictures and video they took which is a tremendous help in maintaining a presence online, updating people who follow his case as well as to gain support when there are actions to take on Tony’s behalf. But with all the pictures, videos, and accounts of Tony at the truck stop, I longed to see him for myself.

I finally got the opportunity to visit Tony recently and it has taken me some time to write this account. The whole experience was surreal, exciting, heartbreaking and bittersweet. I was honored to be in the presence of this majestic tiger but saddened by the conditions he is subjected to and disgusted by the blatant corruption and disregard for a state law that passed unanimously in 2006 banning private ownership of big cats. This along with the lack of concern for Tony’s well-being has shocked and disturbed those of us who are committed to Tony’s release to a sanctuary that can provide him with a natural spacious habitat, excellent medical care, proper diet, enrichment and a peaceful life cared for by those who have the utmost respect for him.

Driving along I-10 I saw the signs for exit 139 Grosse Tete and “LIVE TIGER ATTRACTION” It still seemed like a dream to me…I couldn’t believe I WAS GOING TO SEE TONY – a tiger, known and loved all over the world!

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As I pulled into Tiger Truck Stop I was anxious to see Tony but remembered a friend’s accounts of visits where he stayed in his den or on top of it where you hardly could see him.

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I parked and gathered my camera and phone and walked over to his cage…Tony emerged from his “den” – a handsome big beautiful tiger. I was overcome with mixed emotions: sadness, disbelief, joy, anger  -  I muttered something like: “Hi Tony, I’ve waited a long time to see you beautiful boy.”

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I finally was able to see for myself his enclosure which is 4 compounds of concrete flooring with cinder-block dens and a small grassy area that had a ball; platform, old battered tire and what looked to be a kiddie pool in a wooden platform.

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Tony paced from one compound through the grassy area and back again. It was extremely hot near 90. After pacing for quite some time, Tony retreated to one of the den platforms where he stayed for a while until he came down to eat.

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I observed people who stopped to take a picture, locals talked amongst themselves how “they” tried to take Tony away from them; a man asked me where Tony was because it was difficult to see him on top of the den; after pointing out Tony to him he said: “This is bloody sad.”

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A few days earlier I had visited Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida. I had been to BCR a few years ago and on both occasions I kept thinking what a wonderful life Tony could have at such a sanctuary. BCR, along with The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado and Wildcat Sanctuary in Sandstone Minnesota all have standing offers of homes for Tony.

Tiger at Big Cat Rescue - Tampa FL

Tiger at Big Cat Rescue – Tampa FL

For 14 years Tony has been exploited at the truck stop as a roadside attraction. He has become the “spokes-tiger” for captive tigers and big cats in the United States by networking the issue to people worldwide and gaining support in the U.S. for a federal ban on private ownership of big cats with the Big Cats & Public Safety Protection Act. United States Residents can take action by asking their Congress Members for their co-sponsorship and support of this bill; visit this link from Big Cat Rescue – Tampa FL:
http://bigcatrescue.org/big-cats-and-public-safety-protection-hr1998-s1381/

It was very difficult to leave to Tony. I thought of how wonderful it would be to see this striped king running, splashing in a real pool or just resting peacefully in green grass – away from the noise, smells and gritty truck stop environment. I told him to stay strong and that we’ll never give up on getting him to a “good place.”

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It was an honor to see Tony. I look forward to another visit – the next time at a sanctuary where Tony will truly be able to experience the magnificent cat he is and live in the home he deserves. Until then, I’ll continue to do whatever I can to support efforts for his release to such a place. Tony has captured the minds and hearts of people globally and his worldwide “army” will never stop roaring for him and his release to a reputable big cat sanctuary.

Stay Strong Tony

tony wm 2014

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